Magazine article Talent Development

M-Learning: The Future of Training Technology: With New Technologies Enabling a Wider Use of On-Demand Learning, Mobile Learning Is Waiting for Its Moment to Shine

Magazine article Talent Development

M-Learning: The Future of Training Technology: With New Technologies Enabling a Wider Use of On-Demand Learning, Mobile Learning Is Waiting for Its Moment to Shine

Article excerpt


In its purest form, mobile learning (m-learning) is micro learning: training tidbits delivered via a mobile device such as a smartphone, MP3 player, netbook, Kindle, or iPad. M-learning is also predicted to be one of the top trends in the learning field in 2011. For the past few years, m-learning has been on the cusp of becoming a mainstream practice in the training profession. Now, with new technologies and the wide availability and use of mobile devices--particularly those that are web-enabled--m-learning will soon realize its full potential.

What it is?

There are three types of m-learning: formal, informal, and self-directed. Formal learning consists of learning organized by triggered notifications and reminders, such as SMS messages asking employees to confirm understanding or participation in an event or the completion of an assignment. E-learning courseware viewed on a mobile device also falls into the formal m-learning camp.

Informal learning includes strategies such as engaging in interactive messaging, fostering two-way communication, and soliciting user feedback or data collection. Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and other social media are considered mediums for informal learning. Lastly, self-directed learning consists of user-directed learning, reference and performance support materials, content and courseware, and media-based content such as podcasts or videos.

Where is it going?

According to Robert Gadd, president and chief mobile officer for OnPoint Digital, "m-learning is expanding and reaching the general population. It is expected that mobile learning projects delivered in established and emerging global markets will outnumber those delivered in North America (the United States and Canada) due to greater interest, faster uptake, and a willingness to leverage m-learning on both basic feature phones as well as advanced smartphones."

How, you ask? Well, advanced mobile platforms and emerging technologies such as HTML5, cloud computing, and online gaming will make it easier for people to access interactive, engaging content. HTML5 will make rich media playback on mobile devices more practical and compelling, too, reducing the need for flash-based content on mobile devices.

Cloud computing can now manage mobile devices, rather than a private corporate network. There is also discussion about how smartphone applications that currently live on a device may live in the cloud and be accessed via the Internet in the future. The cloud will thus flatten the app industry, so material could be created once and then accessed by any device.

M-learning will meld with social networking on every learner's mobile device, making the two technologies a fully integrated experience. Support for these two technologies is an essential part of every m-learning vendor's core offerings. The failure to provide a combined experience for the learner will alienate a large part of the audience.

Another m-learning trend is location-based learning. Location-based learning is taking advantage of a learner's physical location and her GPS-enabled device to provide teaching "in the moment," or on-demand. For example, a salesperson can receive valuable information on a city she's never visited while entering the office building of a potential client.

Lastly, touch screen functionality will open up interactivity in m-learning. Touch screens allow much richer interactions than a QWERTY keyboard or an out-of-date traditional keypad.


M-learning offers many benefits for you and your audience:

* It provides an easy way to get current, up-to-date information to your audience.

* It accelerates reinforcement of training courses and follow-up strategies.

* It accesses a population who otherwise may not fully participate in training.

* It is efficient; learners can complete training on their own time and at their own pace. …

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